CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Rajon Rondo had 20 points and 16 assists to help the Boston Celtics beat the Charlotte Bobcats 94-82 Sunday night despite playing without three of their star players.
Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen were given the night off to rest and did not make the trip to Charlotte, N.C. to face the NBA-worst Bobcats. But the Celtics won anyway as Aaron Bradley and Brandon Bass each scored 22 points.
Greg Stiemsma started in place of Garnett and had six blocks, tying a career-high.
The loss was the Bobcats’ 16th straight, tying a dubious franchise record set earlier this season. Gerald Henderson had 22 points in a losing effort for the Bobcats (7-52). If the Bobcats lose their final seven games this season they will finish with the worst single-season winning percentage in NBA history.
Despite being down to 11 healthy players, the Celtics shot 62 percent from the field in the first quarter and jumped out to a 34-23 lead.
Rondo had 12 points and seven assists during that span.
The Bobcats were able to pull within four in the fourth quarter, but Bradley hit a big 3-pointer from the corner. Bass followed that with a jumper from the foul line and Mickael Pietrus knocked down another 3-pointer from the wing to get the lead back to double digits.
The Bobcats, who couldn’t seem to find a rhythm on offense, never really challenged again.
With the Celtics already having clinched a playoff spot, coach Doc Rivers decided to leave Garnett and Pierce at the team hotel in the New York area after Saturday night’s game against the New Jersey Nets to rest. The Celtics have a game Tuesday night at New York.
Ray Allen, who is nursing a sore right ankle, wasn’t expected to play and remains in Boston. He’s listed as day-to-day.
Rivers said the Celtics had planned to rest Garnett for this game prior to the start of three straight games, but he kept Pierce behind after he jammed his left big toe against the Nets. Rivers said if this were a playoff game Pierce would play but this is strictly a precautionary measure.
The Bobcats shot just 41 percent from the field and were outrebounded 44-37.
NOTES: North Carolina coach Roy Williams and North Carolina State coach Mark Gottfried took in the game courtside Sunday night. ... Jamario Moon played his first game for the Bobcats after spending most of the season with the Developmental League. He did not score in 13 minutes of action.